Saturday, June 27, 2015

Giancarlo Stanton (hand) to miss 4-6 weeks

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will miss the next four to six weeks after having surgery for a hamate (hand) fracture, per MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.

If there is good news, it's that there is no ligament damage, but it's obviously a huge blow for the Marlins offense.

Playing in 74 of the team's first 75 games, Stanton currently has 27 home runs with 67 runs batted in, both of which lead all of baseball. Easily on pace to shatter his previous career highs of 37 HRs and 105 RBI, Stanton has hit a home run per every 10.33 at bats this season.

Stanton's K% of 29.9 is the fourth-worst in baseball and his highest since his rookie season (31.1%), but his .341 ISO is also a career high and second-best in baseball behind Bryce Harper (.379).

As productive as Stanton has been offensively, the Marlins still rank only 24th in baseball in runs scored (277).

In addition, the Marlins rank just 20th in home runs hit (62), which means that Stanton has hit 43.5 percent of the team's home runs. First baseman Justin Bour (six HRs) is the only other Marlins hitter with at least five home runs this season.

Losers of five consecutive games and eight of their past nine games, the Marlins are 15 games below .500 and only the Brewers (.373) and Phillies (.347) have a lower winning percentage than the Marlins (.400).

Friday, March 13, 2015

2015 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Late-Round Targets For Your Draft

Sleepers aren't what they used to be. The idea of grabbing a sleeper that could take your baseball league by surprise has become as outmoded as newspapers. The wealth of information available on the internet at the click of mouse means any player with a shot at a major league roster is well vetted by any diligent researcher.

Still, digging up value, especially in the later rounds of your draft, will always be the key to giving yourself a real shot at taking home your championship. Value can come in many forms on draft day, and today I want to look a few players who fall into several categories.


Here are our four players to target late in your fantasy baseball drafts:

Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

Belt falls into the forgotten by injury category. Last year, Belt's breakout was cut short by injuries. First a broken hand, then a concussion sustained in batting practice served to hide a transformation that had begun the previous season. From August 1, 2013 though his injury on May 9, 2014, Belt hit .300+ with 16 HR, 46 runs scored and 52 RBI across just 352 plate appearances. Entering his age 27 season and his physical prime, the projections of 20 home runs may well be selling him short. With Pablo Sandoval in Boston and Hunter Pence injured, Belt will be given every opportunity to be the focal point of the Giants offense in 2015 and accrue the counting stats needed. Last year, just six qualified first basemen managed to hit at least .270 and launch 20-plus home runs. With an ADP around 200 and as the 28th first baseman, Belt is more than likely being drafted far too low for the production he will provide.

Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians

Salazar falls into the post-hype sleeper category. Last year Salazar was touted as sleeper after coming off a fantastic finish to the 2013 season. Salazar got off to a rough start. While he piled up strikeouts in bunches (47 in 40.2 innings), his 1-4 record and 5.53 ERA were harsh enough to sour most owners and even the Indians on him. After a stint in the minors, Salazar came back and posted the numbers people thought he was due for with five wins, a 3.50 ERA and 73 Ks in 69.1 IP across 12 starts, but by that point, he was overshadowed by Cleveland's Cy Young pitcher Corey Kluber. While his first-half numbers looked ugly, they were heavily influenced by a .369 BABIP and 14.8 HR/FB ratio, two numbers that should, and did, regress in the second half. Last year's 9.82 K/9 would have ranked sixth among qualified pitchers and his 3.52 FIP was 33rd. With an ADP of 241, the 2.83 FIP he posted in the second half of last year would have ranked 11th among qualified starters and could be the sign of a big year in 2015.

Steven Souza, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Souza is the free-at-last prospect. With Bryce Harper and Jason Werth manning the corner outfield spots, Souza was finding playing time scarce in Washington despite two fantastic seasons in the high minors. With the deal that sent him to Tampa Bay, he has cleared the first hurdle to fantasy success and that is playing time. While projections don't see him maintaining the .300+ average he sported in the minors, the speed and power threat is real. Souza is projected to hit 22 HRs and steal 24 bases in 600 plate appearances, last year only four players managed to have more than 20 in each of those categories. With and ADP of 243, Souza can provide plenty value at the tail end of a roster.

Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit Tigers

Hunter is the old and boring pick. Hunter continues to to be a reliable even entering his age 39 season. There aren't a whole lot of projections, and number squinting to see what he has done. It's been a decade since he has failed to record 70 runs or 80 RBI. He's also logged at least 140 games in eight of the last nine years. Projections once again see a solid, unspectacular year from Hunter, but many times the certainty you can get by. Consistent production out of a guy with an ADP of 259 can help smooth over some misses on high-upside youngsters.

Have fantasy baseball drafts coming up? Prepare with our free fantasy baseball mock simulator.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sergio Romo out, committee (Casilla, Affeldt) in as Giants closer

Giants reliever Sergio Romo blew another save last night; his third in his past five appearances.

Now it's unclear if, or when, he will get his next chance to close the game as he's been removed from the team's closer role and he will be replaced by a committee, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Both Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt will get the team's ninth-inning opportunities going forward.

Casilla has an ERA of 1.17 and WHIP of 0.88 while Affeldt has been nearly as effective with an 1.33 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Romo has allowed nine earned runs in his past 4 1/3 innings over his past five appearances.

It's unclear if either one will get more opportunities to close than the other, but both are widely available in fantasy leagues. At the moment (although these percentages will likely rise quickly), Casilla and Affeldt are owned in only 12 and three percent of Yahoo! leagues, respectively.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

White Sox place Jose Abreu on 15-day DL

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has been dealing with tendinitis in his left ankle since spring training, but that didn't slow him down in April.

In fact, Abreu became the first player in American League history to win the Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month in the first month of his MLB career.

After leaving last night's game in the seventh inning, however, Abreu was placed on the 15-day disabled list today.


Back in Chicago, Abreu will get another MRI, but general manager Rick Hahn said "it's reasonable to believe" that Abreu will be back once his 15-day stint on the DL is up.

“I dislike speculating on return timeframes. ... as of right now, it’s reasonable to believe we’ll be able to resolve this thing within the 15-day period,” Hahn said, per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago.

In a corresponding move, the White Sox activated Adam Eaton from the DL.

Abreu currently leads all of baseball in home runs (15) and trails only Miami's Giancarlo Stanton in runs batted in (42).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jose Fernandez (elbow) expected to miss the rest of the season

The news is not good. In fact, it's horrible for one of the game's best young pitchers.

Per Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Miami Marlins believe that staff ace Jose Fernandez will need Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow.

If so, Fernandez would likely be out until June 2015.

Through eight starts, Fernandez has a 4-2 record with an MLB-high 70 strikeouts and a 2.44 ERA in 51 2/3 innings. Named the NL Rookie of the Year last season, Fernandez finished 12-6 with 187 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA in 172 2/3 innings in 2013.

It's unclear who will take his spot in the rotation, but Kevin Slowey or Brad Hand could make a spot start in his place on Wednesday.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Yu Darvish (neck) doubtful for Opening Day

Whether or not staff ace Yu Darvish (neck) will be ready for Opening Day is unclear at this point.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes: "Darvish played catch on Monday but is still dealing with a stiff neck. The Rangers aren’t sure when he’ll get back on the mound and it appears more questionable if he’ll be ready for Opening Day. General manager Jon Daniels said it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Darvish gets pushed back."

The Rangers open the season with a series against the Phillies that begins on Monday, March 31st.

In his second season with the Rangers, Darvish finished second behind Max Scherzer in A.L. Cy Young voting with a 13-9 record, 2.83 ERA (fourth-best in AL) and league-best 277 strikeouts.

Darvish is ranked second in my 2014 starting pitcher fantasy baseball rankings behind only Clayton Kershaw.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jurickson Profar (shoulder) to miss 10-12 weeks

Trading Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for first baseman Prince Fielder in the offseason opened up door for Jurickson Profar to become the Rangers' everyday second baseman.

Unfortunately, someone other than Profar will be manning second base for the Rangers for the first few months of the season.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Profar will be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks with a torn muscle in his shoulder although the injury won't require surgery.

Per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Josh Wilson is the leading candidate to replace him, although they will consider other options, such as Adam Rosales, Brent Lillibridge and Kensuke Tanaka (both of whom can be recalled from the minors) and top prospect Rougned Odor.

Turning 21 years old in February, Profar was Baseball America's top prospect after the 2012 season. This spring, Profar was hitting .222 with two homers and 11 runs batted in.

Max Scherzer rejects "substantial, long-term" offer from Tigers

Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer rejected a "substantial, long-term contract offer" from the team, according to team's Twitter feed.

In addition, the Tigers official statement indicates there will be "no further in-season negotiations" with Scherzer, who is due to become a free agent after the 2014 season.

Last year, Scherzer won the A.L. Cy Young award with a 21-3 record, 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 214.1 innings. Scherzer led the league in wins and WHIP (0.970) and finished second in K/9 (10.078) behind Yu Darvish (11.890) after leading the league in 2012 with an 11.1 K/9 rate.

Scherzer is my SP7 in my 2014 fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Joakim Soria named Rangers' closer

The Texas Rangers have named Joakim Soria as the team's closer, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Manager Ron Washington says (via T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com) that Soria won the job due to "[h]is consistency and his … experience in closing down ballgames."

Before missing 2012 (Tommy John surgery), Soria notched 160 saves with the Royals from 2007 to 2011. In his five seasons with the Royals, Soria had a 2.40 ERA, 1.043 WHIP and struck out 341 batters in 315.1 innings pitched.

In addition to Soria being named closer, Alexi Ogando will be the set-up man and Tanner Scheppers has earned a spot in the rotation.

On the other hand, Neftali Feliz is "competing for a spot" in the Rangers' bullpen.

So far this spring, Soria has yet to allow an earned run in 7.0 innings and has allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out five batters. Meanwhile, Feliz has a 4.50 ERA and opponents are hitting .324 against him this spring.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kris Medlen to have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday

The early expectations (or fears) were that Braves starter Kris Medlen would need Tommy John surgery after leaving his March 9th start with what was initially described as a forearm strain.

Today, that was confirmed.

Medlen will will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

In a message to fans thanking them for their support, Medlen said that he will "approach this process with the same drive that I’ve had my entire life and will do everything I can to come back from this “thing” twice."

Meanwhile, Brandon Beachy will be evaluated further in L.A., but the expectation is that he will also need Tommy John surgery.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Braves sign Ervin Santana to one-year deal

Earlier this morning, the Braves annouced via Twitter that they have signed Ervin Santana to a one-year deal.

Per ESPN, the deal is worth approximately $14 million.

Especially considering the injuries to the team's rotation, adding the best available free-agent pitcher makes a ton of sense.

Kris Medlen, the expected Opening Day starter, left his last start with what could be a season-ending injury, but he is still being evaluated.

In addition, Mike Minor may also begin the season on the disabled list and Brandon Beachy left Monday's start with elbow/forearm tightness.

With the Royals last season, Santana was 9-10 with a career-best 3.24 ERA and struck out 161 batters in 211 innings pitched.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kris Medlen (forearm) leaves start early, to have MRI Monday

In the fourth inning of today's spring training game against the Mets, Braves starter Kris Medlen left the game early with what is being called a right forearm strain.

That said, there is the potential that it is a serious injury for Medlen, who had Tommy John surgery back in 2010.

Medlen will have an MRI and be evaluated by the team's orthopedist on Monday, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

As Bowman notes, Medlen's initial reaction today after throwing the pitch that led to the injury was similar to his reaction from 2010 before he needed Tommy John surgery.

"He wasn't in good spirits [initially]," [Braves manager Fredi] Gonzalez said. "But after he got settled down a little bit and the trainers looked at him a little bit and the Mets doctors looked at him, I think he was in better spirits."

In 43 starts since July 31, 2012, Medlen has an ERA of 2.47, which is second only to Clayton Kershaw (1.80) during that span.

Hopefully, the news for Medlen tomorrow is better than it appeared, but it looks like there is a good chance that Medlen will begin the season on the disabled list. Not only could the Braves be without Medlen to start the season, but Mike Minor is hoping to be ready by the end of the second week of the regular season.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yankees, Brett Gardner agree to 4-year extension

The New York Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner have agreed to a four-year extension worth $52 million, per Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News.

In addition, the Yankees have a team option at $12.5 million (with a $2 million buyout) for 2019.

Gardner hit .273 last season with an AL-high 10 triples, eight homers, 52 runs batted in, 81 runs and 24 stolen bases. In his career, Gardner has stolen 168 bases on 199 attempts for a success rate of 84 percent.

One of the faster players in baseball, Gardner will play left field this year with the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason. In addition to Ellsbury, the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran this offseason.

All three of those outfielders are under contract for at least the next three seasons: Ellsbury (2020), Gardner (2018) and Beltran (2016).

In my 2014 fantasy outfielder rankings, I currently have Ellsbury, Beltran and Gardner ranked seventh, 27th and 44th, respectively.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Closer Craig Kimbrel, Braves agree to four-year extension

The Braves and closer Craig Kimbrel have agreed to a four-year extension that includes a team option for 2018 as well, via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

As Ken Rosenthal tweets, the extension buys out all three years of arbitration and one, possibly two (with the 2018 option), year of free agency.

Per ESPN's Jayson Stark, the deal is worth at least $42 million over those four years.

In the past three seasons as the team's closer, Kimbrel has a total of 138 saves with an ERA of 1.48, a WHIP of 0.871 and K/9 rate of 14.9 (341 strikeouts in 206.2 innings).

Without question, Kimbrel is the top fantasy reliever heading into the 2014 season.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Derek Jeter to retire after the 2014 season

One year after we saw the farewell tour for Mariano Rivera, it will be El Capitan's turn in 2014.

Earlier today, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced via his Facebook page that the 2014 season will be his final season.

While he's never won a regular-season MVP, Jeter helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles and will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Breaking the franchise's hit record several seasons ago, Jeter currently ranks 10th on the all-time hits list with 3,316. Assuming Jeter stays healthy, which is no given after playing in only 17 games in 2013 and about to turn 40 in June, he has an excellent chance to move up to sixth all-time in hits.

With 120 hits, he will pass Cap Anson (3,435, 6th), Honus Wagner (3,420, 7th), Carl Yastrzemski (3,419, 8th) and Paul Molitor (3,319, 9th). There is little chance that he gets the 200 hits he needs to pass Tris Speaker (3,515, 5th), but Jeter did get 216 hits just two seasons ago (2012). (He's reached the 200-hit milestone eight times in his career.)

Not only does Jeter rank first among Yankees' players in hits, he ranks first in games (2,602), at-bats (10,614) and stolen bases (348). Jeter ranks third in runs scored (1,876) behind Babe Ruth (1,959) and Lou Gehrig (1,888) and sixth in runs batted in (1,261).